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Dishwasher Clogged? Five Early Warning Signs of a Clogged Dishwasher

There's nothing more annoying than an appliance that won't work properly – especially when you really need it to! If your dishwasher is not draining, it may be a case of a clogged sewer line. Dishwashers are connected to your kitchen sink's water supply line and drain system. If either of these becomes clogged, your dishwasher won't get all the water it needs to clean the dishes. Food or other debris could be the culprit, but whatever the case, it's important to recognize the signs of a clogged dishwasher so you can get it repaired immediately.

Here are five early warning signs that your dishwasher is clogged:

1. Gurgling. If you hear an unusual gurgling sound coming from your drains, this could be water attempting to break through a roadblock, so to speak. Clogs can occur in your main sewer line or secondary lines, so if you hear this noise, be sure to get a plumber out to diagnose the location of the clog.

2. Slow-flowing drain. If you can tell your dishwasher or kitchen sink is draining slowly, there might be a near-clog in your kitchen sewer line. You'll want to get help as soon as possible, because that near-clog could lead to a fully clogged dishwasher and kitchen sink.

3. Water backup. If your dishwasher is running and water is backing up out of the kitchen sink, there might be a problem. Shut off the dishwasher and run the garbage disposal to ensure there's no food stuck in the sink or causing a clog. If the water backup persists, call a plumber immediately.

4. Leftover water. If you open the dishwasher after its cycle is complete and discover water resting in the bottom, that means the appliance didn't drain properly – and you've got a problem on your hands! Troubleshoot to discover the cause of your clogged dishwasher or call in the experts.

5. Unclean dishes. Likewise, if you open the dishwasher after it has run and find your dishes are not clean, that could mean it didn't actually fill with water. This would indicate a clog in the main line or secondary kitchen line.

Related Video: How to Clean Your Dishwasher


Let's be honest: The dishes in your home are probably rarely done by hand. So, when the dishwasher is not draining properly or starts to act up, it can throw a wrench into your kitchen cleanliness and time management. Being aware of common dishwasher issues is one way you can prepare yourself for any problems that come up in the future. Knowing a little about these issues in advance can help you decide whether you can fix the machine yourself, if you need to call in a professional plumber, or if the problem requires an appliance repairman.


The first thing you'll want to check if your dishwasher is not draining is the drain pipe and drain tube leading from the dishwasher to the drainpipe beneath your kitchen sink. The solution could be as simple as removing pieces of food from the pipe to clear the drain. A blockage can occur if you forget to scrape off larger bits of food from your dishes. If you've cleared the drain and the dishwasher still isn't working properly, inspect the drain hose to make sure there are no kinks that are blocking the water flow.

Many times a dishwasher will click into the drain cycle, but when it is finished running, the dishwasher is still full of water. This is a common occurrence and our staff of plumbers are more than capable of assisting if needed.

There are two things that control the discharge of water from the dishwasher – the pump and the screen in front of the pump. If the pump motor is bad, no water will be removed from the dishwasher. And if the screen is completely clogged, then no water can get to the pump impeller.

If the line is not clogged, you will need a very good "handy man" or an appliance tech to come out and fix the problem. If the line is clogged, you can call your local Roto-Rooter to fix this plumbing repair by clearing your plumbing line to the dishwasher.


You might be surprised to know that dirty dishes can often be caused by an overfilled detergent dispenser or the detergent you're using. If your wash cycle is giving you spotty or residue-covered items when it's done, try switching out the amount and type of soap you're using. The spray arms are another part of the machine you should check. If the outlet holes are clogged, your dishwasher can leave food residue on your plates, glasses, bowls, etc. Try clearing the clogged outlet holes and run your dishwasher again. If your dishes still have food residue on them, it may be time to call in a professional.


Stepping in a puddle of water in the kitchen is the worst. A simple fix to this dilemma could be to switch the detergent you're using. If the cleaner is creating too many suds in the dishwasher, it could be the cause of your leaking dishwasher. You should also inspect the latch and door hinges to determine if everything is closing properly. Also, try wiping the door gasket with a wet cloth. Sometimes detergent and debris can build up on the gasket to prevent a good seal.

If you tried one of the suggested solutions, but you're still experiencing one of the complications above, it may be a sign you have a bigger problem, like a damaged hose or a seriously clogged dishwasher drain. In this case, it is probably time to contact a plumber for drain cleaning and repairs. If you’ve determined that the problem is mechanical, you’ll probably want to contact an appliance repair company.


Dishwashers are extremely useful household appliances that can save hundreds of hours of scrubbing over the course of their lifetime. If there's one caveat to these convenient machines, though, it's that they're fairly expensive to replace.

As such, the goal with any dishwasher should be to get the greatest possible return on your investment, and the best way to do that is to keep the appliance running as long as possible. To avoid having to make an unnecessary purchase of a new dishwasher, here are a few tips to help you prolong the life of the one you currently own.


One of the main culprits for clogs, either in the spray arms of a dishwasher or in the filter, is food debris that is allowed to build up over time. As such, check your dishwasher's filter – which can be found at the bottom of the appliance, near where the water drains – after each load to make sure that it's functioning properly. How often you actually need to clean the filter may vary between models, so it's always a good idea to refer to your appliance guide just to be sure.

An issue of contention regarding food-related clogs in your dishwasher is whether or not you should rinse dishes before loading them up. Leftovers should be scraped into a garbage disposal or trash bin, but that's all. Also, some detergents clean by affixing themselves to food particles, and then breaking them down. Without any "gunk," the detergent would run right over the dish without thoroughly cleaning them.

The other side of the argument is that most experts would recommend the opposite, claiming that the combination of soap, minerals and food gunk will eventually cause sludge that could lead to poor drainage, and possible even cause backups that will leave you washing your dishes with dirty water.

As a middle ground to the argument, always refer to your handbook for best practices that will prolong the life of your appliance without sacrificing the quality of each load.


The average life expectancy of your dishwater is around a decade or so. But even if the central components of the machine such as the drainage and the spray arms work just fine, it's also important to be mindful of the appliance's hardware, such as the fixtures on the inside of the door and the dish racks.

For example, forks and knives should be placed in the dishwasher with handles up. This is good for safety reasons, but it's also a smart way to prevent blades from dragging along the interior wall as you slide the racks, or sticking out and cutting into the door as you close it.

As a few final tips, it's important not to overload dishwashers, as this can add unnecessary wear and tear. Also, don't put any non-dishwasher safe items into the appliance.

Last but not least, if you experience problems with your dishwasher, don't hesitate to call your local Roto-Rooter. It's better to fix a problem the right way the first time than risk having to buy a whole new dishwasher later.


A dishwasher is a true time-saver. Reduce the time you spend scrubbing your plates clean, while keeping your sink clear of dirty dishes with this must-have appliance. When your dishwasher is not working properly, you're going to want it fixed fast. Here are three dishwasher repairs you can easily do yourself.


If you notice that your dishes aren't coming out clean, it may not be your dishwasher at all. If the water from your plumbing system isn't getting hot enough, your plates will never fully be sanitized. Are your showers lukewarm, too? Not to worry, a dishwasher repair may not be necessary at all. Shifting the thermostat of your hot water heater will ensure that all of your appliances receive warmer water.


Check your dishwasher’s spray arm to see if it's spinning correctly. If it isn't, there could be food particles or other debris caught in the arm. Twist off the spray-arm cap (it should pop off if you turn it clockwise). Proceed to pick out or empty any excess debris you see. Place it back in your dishwasher properly, and the problem should be fixed.
It is always a good rule of thumb when dealing with any dishwasher problems, to first check for any kind of obstructions by examining the interior of your dishwasher.


If your dishwasher will not start, you could have an issue with the door latch or door latch switches. These fixtures are made to ensure that your dishwasher door stays closed during a wash and they are designed to prevent water from leaking onto your floor. There could be something in between the door not allowing it to properly close. Take a peek inside your fixture to make sure nothing is blocking it. If there is something, remove it so the door can close completely, and your dishwasher should work again. In the event of a water emergency due to a faulty dishwasher, contact Roto-Rooter for premiere water damage restoration service. If you do have to replace your dishwasher, contact the plumbing professionals at Roto-Rooter for the best installation and prompt service available.



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